A third person has died following a listeria outbreak linked to soft cheeses produced in the Australian state of Victoria.
Victoria’s acting chief health officer, Dr Michael Ackland, has confirmed the death of a 68-year-old New South Wales man in late January was linked to the listeria contamination of Jindi cheese products.
An 84-year-old Victorian man and a 44-year-old Tasmanian man have also died of listeria infection. A pregnant NSW woman miscarried. More than 20 other cases have been reported.
Jindi has voluntarily recalled all batches of cheese manufactured up to January 6.
The Newcastle Herald cited Dr Ackland as saying the outbreak, which has been traced to the company’s factory in Gippsland, was the largest the nation had suffered and one of the most complex. He described the process of tracking the outbreak to Jindi as ”an important piece of investigative work”, which involved obtaining food histories from victims and intelligence from OzFoodNet, the federal food diseases surveillance unit, as well as bacterial DNA tests to determine the strain of listeria.
On January 7, Jindi’s French-owned parent company, Lactalis – which bought the gourmet cheese maker from Menora Foods in November for an estimated $20 million – voluntarily committed to a quality assurance program that ”significantly cranks up” its existing food safety standards and has satisfied Victoria’s chief health officer.
Jindi’s chief executive, Franck Beaurain, has not returned telephone calls from Fairfax Media for more than a week.
Three more Australians have been stricken with listeriosis after eating soft cheese, bringing the total number of people affected nationwide to 21.
Two Australians have died and a pregnant woman has miscarried following the outbreak.
The people ate cheese produced by the Jindi Cheese Company that has since been recalled.
Jindi has voluntarily recalled all batches of cheese manufactured up to and including January 6.
NSW Health acting director of health protection Professor Wayne Smith said all of the recent cases involved people aged over 65 with one person in a serious condition.
Consumers can call the Jindi helpline on 1800 680 175 for more information on the recalled cheeses.
Eight cases of listeria infection across Australia have found to be linked and a further three cases are under investigation.
Victoria’s chief health officer Rosemary Lester said consumers should discard 1kg brie and camembert cheese branded Jindi, the 1kg Wattle Valley double brie and the 1kg Wattle Valley camembert with a best before date of December 21.
Dr Lester warned consumers to check the best before date of any Jindi or Wattle Valley soft cheeses.
Two Victorians, three NSW residents and one person in Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia have been diagnosed with the infection.
“Symptoms of illness can take up to 70 days to appear.”